There is something very romantic about the sweet, comforting smell of burnt sugar and vanilla that permeates a kitchen while cooking flan.
The preparation process can be simple but takes a few tries to master the perfectly beautiful and distinct amber color of the caramel. It took several disasters for me to feel comfortable enough with swirling sugar and water in slow motion without stirring, carefully but in rhythmic pace. Sometimes causing me to gyrate my hips without even realizing it. Sounds tricky doesn’t it?
Flan making tests my patience every time. A caramel burn is the most painful burn I’ve ever experienced. My grandmother would say: “El caramelo es traicionero, dulce y delicioso pero puede causar un dolor que lo sientes hasta el alma.” (Hot caramel is treacherous, sweet and delicious but can cause so much pain, that you can feel it in your soul).
The trick is to keep a watchful eye and use a light-colored stainless steel or enamel saucepan to be able distinguish when the caramel color has reached its point. DON’T STIR! I know it’s so tempting. Cook over low to medium heat and watch for the golden color change and light syrupy texture.
Once you feel comfortable in making the caramel, you’ll be able to concentrate in making your own flan variety.
Below is a recipe for one of my favorite flans. I love the combination of hints of citrus with the creamy sweetness of the milks. The addition of orange peel and juice add a burst of flavor and texture to every bite. Enjoy!
Orange Flan Ingredients
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
fresh juice from 2 large oranges (about 1/3 cup)
2 ½ tablespoons of very fine orange peel
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1-12oz evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325° F. Place four 3/4 – cup ramekins or flan/custard cups in 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
In a heavy, small skillet, stir sugar and 3 tablespoons water over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Boil but do not stir, hold skillet’s handle and slowly swirl pan to incorporate sugar and water. About 5 minutes. Immediately pour syrup into custard cups; divide equally.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs then gradually whisk in juice, orange peel, condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla. Divide mixture among ramekins.
Pour hot water into baking pan, half way up the sides of cups (bain marie). Bake flans for 45 minutes or until sides of flans are set but centers are wobbly. Remove baking pan from oven and let the flans cool in the baking pan with water. Remove from water and refrigerate overnight.
Run a small knife around flans to loosen. To unmold, place a plate atop ramekin, hold plate firmly and invert. Shake gently and allow flan to settle onto plate.